Reining could have a set of new rules from next January, designed to improve horses’ welfare.

The changes come partly in response to a video clip from the world reining final in Sweden on the internet site Epona TV, which appeared to show US rider Craig Schmersal jerking the reins, with his horse very overbent, in front of an apparently unconcerned steward.

Mr Schmersal went on to win a silver medal (news, 23 June).

The new rules will cover training and warm-up methods at international competitions for sliding stops, spins and backing, as well as the bits and spurs allowed and stewarding at events.

Francesca Sternberg of British Reining welcomed the move. “I’m impressed by the stewarding at FEI events and have seen very few incidents. But any steps to improve and the fact the FEI is not frightened to look at the incident is progressive,” she said.

The chief steward at the Swedish finals issued verbal warnings to a number of riders, but no yellow cards were issued, according to the FEI.

But Epona TV, which would not hand over the footage to the FEI, has reported that riders said they did not receive warnings.

The rules will be announced once they have been voted on at the FEI general assembly in November and if agreed they will be implemented on 1 January 2012.

This news story was first published in the current issue of Horse & Hound (18 August, 2011)